Brian Windhorst (ESPN) summed it up perfectly when he said that the 76ers are a young team that plays young and the Celtics are a young team that plays old. Translation: The Process doesn’t have its cap and gown with diploma in hand. Still some work to be done.
That, in a nutshell, the still growing part, is why the 76ers, who beat a below average Miami Heat team, won only one game in the Semi-Finals and were denied the opportunity to take the Embiid/Simmons show back to Philly for a game 6. They don’t know how to close out games. They are not tough when the moment arrives. They are young. Young teams don’t win. The Celtics are young but what they have in their back pocket is they were in the Eastern Conference Finals last year. That means something. The Sixers need more time learning how to execute and win in the playoffs.
But this has been an amazing Philly ride. Ben Simmons was everything he was supposed to be and Joel Embiid defied his injury history and played in 61 games. Simmons needs more gym work, particularly on scoring. Until he adapts that part of his game the Sixers will have 4-1 and 4-2 playoff losses.
Embiid needs to get in better shape. In several of the Sixers games, he looked exhausted. The team needs more depth. They didn’t play Markelle Fultz. Robert Covington was unrealiable. T.J. McConnell had one good game. Now that the Sixers know what they have in their two stars, building around them is the next step.
LeBron or Paul George would fit and automatically give the Sixers experience and talent and would make them favorites in the East. On First Take, C.J. McCollum, when discussing his Blazers team said, “it takes time”, referring to building a contender. Players have to gel, there has to be luck and you have to draft well, not just in the top of the draft but in the second round too.
- 2017-18 Sixers Weaknesses: Turnovers (30th), Personal Fouls (29th).
Turnovers were what ultimately cost the Sixers the opportunity to get to the Eastern Conference Finals. They had 16 in Game 5, 8 of which were Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid’s fault. Their best players cannot have mental breakdowns. The just can’t. Part of that was Ben Simmons in his first year as a playmaker going up against experienced defenders. Part of it was Joel Embiid caring the offensive load for the Sixers and not in the shape he needs to be in to finish with force when being challenged physically. It was expected. So what now?
The pressure ramps up even more. Now we know what they can do. Now we expect the Sixers to build the next dynasty once the Warriors run their predictable course. No one is going to make excuses. There will be growing pains but the Sixers will be looked at in a different way. Playoffs a given. Championship contenders if they grow and mature.
Sixers Free Agents: J.J. Redick, Amir Johnson, Marco Belinelli, Ersan Ilyasova
2018-19 Largest Contracts: Joel Embiid, $25,250,000. Robert Covington, $10,464,092.
You know what they say when you have had a good time and want to do it again? Same time next year. It’s the Philly plan. With a different result and the kids a year older gearing for their first Eastern Conference Finals.